New Commissioners Bernie Gagnon and  Gretchen Calcagni.

Planning Commission Welcomes New Members

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Thursday May 02, 2013

The South Burlington Planning Commission is a seven member board of South Burlington citizens who are appointed by the City Council. The Commission is charged with overseeing revisions to the Land Development Regulations (i.e., Zoning and Subdivision Regulations), undertaking planning studies, and updating the Comprehensive Plan. Planning Commission meetings are open to the public and typically meet at 7:00 pm the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month in the City Hall Conference Room, 575 Dorset Street.

South Burlington is shaping up this spring with a fresh Planning Commission. After the resignation of two commissioners, residents Gretchen Calcagni and Bernie Gagnon stepped up to the planning plate-- bringing it back to a full-sized commission.

New Members

Gretchen Calcagni joined the Planning Commission on March 26 for a four year term and was appointed as clerk. She received her Master of Public Policy from Duke University, and she currently works for a small consulting firm that does energy efficiency program planning and evaluation. Her interest in planning sparked when she worked as a Grants Coordinator for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board. 

“I became familiar with a number of the development and land use considerations and challenges facing many parts of the State such as the need for adequate affordable housing as well as balancing Vermonters’ interest in economic growth with a desire to preserve open space,” she said. “Much of my reason for going to graduate school came from an interest in gaining skill and knowledge to develop solutions for addressing these kinds of public issues. “

Concurrently with graduate school, Calcagni spent a summer interning at Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado developing strategies for improving energy efficiency in affordable housing.

Calcagni grew up in South Burlington and returned to the city’s “strong sense of community and great quality of life,” this August after graduate school. Calcagni appreciates South Burlington’s mix of urban, suburban, and rural life and decided to become more directly involved in planning the city’s future. 

“ I think South Burlington is at an exciting and critical time in its land use planning,” she said. “The development of the city center is something I’ve heard being talked about since I was a kid and to help see the vision become a reality is really important to me.  I’m particularly interested in South Burlington’s work to develop Form Based Codes and other practices that will help the city center to develop into a thriving urban space.  I also think Affordable Housing is an important consideration in many parts of the state hope to help find strategies for increasing the supply of affordable housing in South Burlington.  The Commission has demonstrated a commitment to working on these issues and I look forward to becoming involved with efforts to ensure the city continues to be a great place to live,” she said. 

When not at the commissioners table or at work, Calcagni enjoys being outdoors hiking, rock climbing and running.

Bernie Gagnon is the newest member appointed to the commission. His commitment to South Burlington branches back to 1999. He and his wife graduated from UVM and decided to live close to family and enroll their daughters in the city’s excellent school district.

“South Burlington has great neighborhoods, an excellent bike trail system, and is very convenient to shopping, recreation, and entertainment,” he said. “I enjoy the outdoors so I like Vermont in general.”

Gagnon is a licensed professional civil engineer working for a consulting firm in Williston. He has a deep knowledge of site design, utilities, and infrastructure after 30 years of experience. Previously, Gagnon worked as the Shelburne Public Works Director for seven years, as well as consulting for the Army Corps of Engineers in Alaska. He added the South Burlington Planning Commission to his timeline of experience on April 9 (three-year term) in order to “give back to the community”:

“I have a pretty diverse background and experience and I think I can add new and unique input to the SB planning process,” he said. 

Gagnon intends to help the Planning Commission implement recommendations from the four IZ Commmittees to make sure they are in sync with regulations and the Comprehensive Plan (the city’s visionary guide to the future).
Gagnon keeps active via kayaking, bicycling, and skiing.

Veteran Commissioners

Jessica Louisos is Chair of the commission. By day, Louisos is a Water Resource Engineer with Milone & MacBroom, Inc. in Waterbury. Louisos also serves as president of the Vermont section of the American Society of Civil Engineers and was named the 2013 Vermont Young Engineer of the Year.  Louisos is currently on a three-year term through 2014.

Tracey Harrington is the Vice Chair of the commission and was first appointed this past fall. She has been a resident for nine years, and she works in Information Technology. Harrington is currently on a four-year term through 2016.

Ted Riehle has lived in SB since 1960 and has a long history of  involvement and service dedicated to the state and local community. Riehle is Vice-President of Silverlake Wealth Management, a private investment firm, and is a member of the Form Based Code Committee. He is currently on a three-year term through 2013.

Sophie Quest is a student of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at UVM; She is also the commission liaison for the Sustainable Agriculture/Food Security Task Force. Quest is on a four-year term through 2016.

Barbara Benton is a member of the Open Space Committee. Benton is currently on a four-year term through 2015.

SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent